So notable is her success (1.1 million Instagram followers and counting) that Kino’s daily mantras and near-perfect practice are a resounding inspiration to the yoga community. Then there are the books she’s written on the art and power of Ashtanga, and the sell-out touring workshops.
We caught up with the yogi herself during her visit to London this month to talk training, mindfulness and making it on Instagram. Here’s what she has to say.
How has a daily yoga practice shaped you both personally and professionally?
I am the person that I am today because I’ve been practicing yoga and meditation every day for the last 20 years. My daily commitment to yoga gives me the strength, faith, and the energy to do all the things I do.
What have the mental health benefits been?
Spiritual practice is the foundation of a calm mind and peaceful heart. There have been times when my mental health has been challenged, and it is my daily yoga practice that has kept me sane.
Biggest misconception about yoga (the practice, the community, the profession)?
The biggest misconception about yoga is that it has to feel good and be only good vibes all the time. The truth of the matter is that yoga is sometimes both hard and challenging, just as life can sometimes be both hard and challenging. Yoga practice teaches you real, practical skills that will help you face the inevitable ups and downs of life with equanimity.
What would your advice be to someone looking to become an Ashtanga yoga teacher?
First and foremost, every yoga teacher starts out as a student. For anyone interested in becoming a yoga teacher I would advise that they dive deeply into their own personal practice. If you want to practice a traditional any age-based yoga, then make a commitment to immerse yourself in the tradition, workshops, retreats, and longer courses available.
What was one of the most powerful takeaways from your training?
My teachers always told me to be stronger, they pushed me far beyond the bounds of what I ever imagined possible for myself. It was because they believed in me that I was able to be strong enough to believe in myself. The lesson of strength is tied to the lesson of self-worth and only when you believe that you are worth it, when you believe that you are enough, will you finally be strong enough to believe in your dreams and never give up.
Would you say that you have found peace, and if so, what does that feel like?
Over the last 20 years of practice I can definitively say that the arc of my inner life has shifted towards a more peaceful place. This is a promise that the practice makes for everyone. If you keep practicing, peace is the gift that comes to you too.
You set up OMstars – a global platform for the yoga network – for those unfamiliar, how does it work and what was the motivation?
A few years ago I was looking online for something to watch and I realised that there was nothing that really spoke to me as a yogi. Despite all of the available online classes, there was nothing that resonated with what it really meant to live that yogi life – and from that, OmStars was born.
I wanted to create something that was more than just a yoga practice space. I wanted to create an online yoga TV channel that provided students with the tools needed to practice all over the world in a way that was informative and fun to watch. All of the content is designed and organised into video courses or series so that it’s really engaging – you never have to feel like you’re on your own at home wondering what to do next. Practicing with OmStars is like having a friend for each step of the journey whether you want to practice, study, change your diet, and/or just play.
How did you build momentum on Instagram from the beginning, and how integral has the platform been to your success?
When I first got started on Instagram I had no idea that it would be such a tool for connecting with the global yoga community. I simply started out sharing flower pictures when I first launched my account and then, when I started hosting monthly yoga challenges, I saw how powerful the yoga community on Instagram really is. The most inspiring part about yoga on Instagram is connecting with real students whose hearts and souls are committed to the practice.
In today’s digital world where we are all always on, always connected and constantly scrolling through social media platforms – how can we be truly mindful (for a significant amount of time) and reconnect with our own self?
Zoning out of ourselves completely and tuning into the cyber world is so readily available, it’s almost like an addiction. As a yogi, it can be hard to navigate between the inner world and the social media world but the most important thing to remember is the practice. I would advise treating all communication on social media with the same presence and discipline you would in real life – maintain a commitment to speak from the heart with kindness and love.
What do you want to achieve this year?
I am fully committed to making my online channel the best it possibly can be. We have so many new teachers and so many new courses and series plans to film so I am really excited about all the awesome new content to come on OMstars. And there may be an OMstars event coming soon!
Tease a project that you have in the pipeline…
I’m working on a new book that will make the yoga practice accessible for more people and that’s really exciting for me as the hope is that it will inspire even more people to practice. There is another big project that I’ve just started to lay the groundwork for too, but I can’t say more about it just yet.